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Twitch removes PogChamp emote after star encourages ‘further violence’ at Capitol Hill

The face behind the popular emote used social media to spur civil unrest

Pogchamp, one of gaming culture’s most prominent faces, has been removed from livestreaming service Twitch, the company announced. The decision was taken in light of its real-world face, fighting game personality Ryan “Gootecks” Gutierrez, who utilized social media to, in Twitch’s words, encourage “further violence after what took place in the Capitol today.”

Following a violent takeover of Capitol Hill by Trump supporters — and calls to impeach from major political figures — Gutierrez asked his followers to continue the “civil unrest” that unfolded throughout Jan. 6. The personality invoked the name of a woman who died during the Trump supporter takeover, encouraging his followers to watch a video about her passing.

In short order, many top gaming personalities announced that they were either banning the wide-eyed emote from their channels, if not asking the platform itself, Twitch, to take action against it. The charge was led by content creator Natasha “Zombaekillz” Zinda, a personality who has been vocal about “deplatforming hate.”

At 9 p.m. Wednesday night, the San Francisco-based company did exactly that. Users can no longer use the emote on the service. Polygon has reached out to Twitch for comment, and a representative pointed to the remarks made on Twitter. According to Twitch tracking service StreamElements, PogChamp was the fifth most-used expression on the livestreaming site. Acknowledging that legacy, the company said while PogChamp is a huge part of Twitch culture, the platform cannot in good conscience “enable the use of the image.” Twitch added that it would be working with the community to design something to replace the former PogChamp emote with something equally as “hype.”

On Friday morning, Twitch said that it would go with one of the most popular community suggestions to change up who would appear when users type in PogChamp to their chat, with a new face updated every day. It’s unclear how many different unique candidates will be in the pool, and how Twitch picked the streamers who will appear.

Gutierrez previously made the news over spreading conspiracy theories. Twitch’s own community guidelines prohibit violence, including using platforms outside of the livestreaming service to encourage it. In late 2020, Twitch updated its harassment guidelines to ban the Confederate Flag, along with some other tweaks concerning politics on the service.

Update (Jan. 7): This story has been updated to include details regarding one of the the original calls to take down the emote.

Update 2 (Jan 8): This story has been updated to add details regarding Twitch’s plans to replace PogChamp in 2021.

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